- As I’ve recently written, I’m in the flow of the start-of-school mindset right now by virtue of how I’ve chosen to spend my time lately. Luckily my children find me more amusing than embarrassing, and they introduce me to many of their friends; most of whom are students too.
- Financing college for both my children is a sizable effort (one I am quite happy to make), and as you can imagine, I want them to get the most of their collegiate experience. I talk to them about it – a lot.
- I am asked to speak on Managing with Aloha on different school campuses in Hawaii fairly frequently, and it gives me numerous encounters with students who are engaged, and others who, well, are not.
All these things taken together I’ve noticed something. Something which both saddens and alarms me.
Thankfully, there are exceptions, but for too many of them, as far as our school-bound youth is concerned, there is no cool factor connected to learning, at least not the ‘learning’ they do in the school environment. On the contrary, learning has become synonymous with work, and not work of the MWA genre, the ‘work’ of the 4-letter word variety” junk, hard, a bore and yuck.
When I tell college students that I actually get a bit jealous of them, and sometimes wish I could be back in college again alongside them (very true; I say it with complete sincerity) they look at me as if I am totally clueless and in some La La Land where ignorance must be bliss.
Case in point: I’ve discovered that one of the most popular urls for college students at this time of year is www.rateyourprofessor.com, a site where they can get the skinny on which professors will make their course choice as painless as possible.
What can we be doing to improve on this sorry state of affairs? If you have children, you can never start too early, instilling them with an insatiable curiosity about themselves, their capacity, the world around them, and all the people in it. Understand you can’t be with them all the time, and they’ve got to eventually discover how to do this for themselves —the quicker the better. Meanwhile, they’ve got to get infected by your learning enthusiasm often enough to offset the other opposing factors which may be at play in their lives.
You’ve got to help them find a Learning Cool Factor.
We passionately promote reading here, normally celebrating books and the learning environment they create, but fact is, reading books isn’t enough. And there are factors working against our best efforts. I am as voracious a reader as you’ll find, and when I compare the books my kids are required to read for school with the books that I gobble up by the dozens, I shake my head, start groaning, and think “Yuck!” too. I am beginning to cringe each time I hear the phrase, “core curriculum” to describe the texts on their must-purchase booklists. They are the polar opposite of every good thing we discover about setting the tone for positive, optimistic, vibrantly exciting environments nourished by the love of reading.
I used to think there was no such thing as a bad book, but now I wonder…
It doesn’t help that books get equated to debt (another 4-letter word”) in growing college loans for our youth when just one book can cost $56 for a dated, used copy in paperback! (See The Price of Schoolbooks- One Option)
Sidebar: I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is on this; consider using MWA for your basic fundamentals in management courses. If you are a teacher who can use it, email me with a copy of your class syllabus, and I’ll have Ho‘ohana Publishing sell the book to you, your school and your students at wholesale.
I’ve got a pretty good grasp on who the readers of this blog are, and I’d wager to say that most of you reading these words do love learning, and you have identified your own cool factor connected with it. As adult learners we eventually arrive here, falling in love with learning in our growing understanding of how it empowers us, and how it can transform us. However when we think back to our own days in school, we can easily empathize with why our youth can’t come to our same realization any quicker than we did.
We need to do something about it. Talking about the problem is nothing more than commiseration, whining, and moaning if we aren’t part of the solution. Whining doesn’t work for us in our business lives, and it shouldn’t be tolerated in the rest of our lives either.
Let’s help all the parents out there: Comment here with your experiences, and tell us how you found your cool factor for learning, would you? The rest of the Ho‘ohana Community of readers is waiting to learn from you.
Got a RSS-skim habit? Click in this time, comment, and talk story with us.
The second thing you can do is this: We have a learning forum coming up, and as you read the different articles offered, a new one for each day in September, look for the cool factor. Question the authors by commenting and talking story with them until their cool factor is totally revealed in your mind’s eye. Then do what you can to duplicate the experience for every young person you know. You will give them no greater gift.
Fourth is for you, as you patiently wait for our Joyful Jubilant Learning 2006 Forum . . . Examples of our past learning environments connected to books here on Talking Story:
With Tom Ehrenfeld and The Startup Garden: Get your learning cool factor connected to an entrepreneurial mindset.
With Managing with Aloha and our Jumpstart Program: Connect your learning cool factor with ‘Ike loa, and the other way-cool concepts of values-based management and the aloha spirit.
When I say that Learning Needs a Cool Factor, I mean that Learning Needs You – To model it brilliantly for every young person you know.